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Transforming Mercedes Concept IAA is slippery like an eel

This, folks, is the Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA, unveiled today at, you guessed it, at the IAA 2015 (that’s the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in case you were wondering).

Why the odd name? Well, Merc has shoehorned meaning into the acronym — it stands for Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile. Fair enough, we’ll let them have that one – it’s not the worst they’ve come up with.

The car probably deserves its name, as it has been designed specifically to cut through the air like the proverbial hot knife through butter. This thing has a drag coefficient of just 0.19cd. For reference, the super-slippery Toyota Prius has a comparatively brick-like drag of 0.25cd.

How has Mercedes managed such sorcery, you rightly ask? Why, with a transforming bottom, of course. No, seriously.

When the car reaches 80kmh, the rear bumper area extends, like a puckering sphincter for want of a better analogy, by up to 390mm. Front flaps, meanwhile, extend by 25mm, the Active Rims ‘alter their cupping’ from 55mm to zero and the louvre in the front bumper moves backwards by 60mm – all of which improves airflow around the car.

Frankly, it’s a little unnerving to look at, but it works. In standard ‘concept’ mode, it emits CO2 at a rate of 62g/km. In puckered mode (sorry, aerodynamic mode) it’ll spit CO2 at a rate of just 28g/km.

Merc is coy on how this translates to fuel economy savings due to the fact that mpg tests include a high degree of urban driving, during which aero efficiency isn’t particularly important. However it says that when driving in electric-only mode, the car can travel 66km in aerodynamic mode as opposed to 62km in normal mode.

Despite being highly eco-oriented, the Concept IAA can still transport four passengers at a decent pace, thanks to four seats and a total power output of 279hp – enough for an electronically limited top speed of 250kmh.

Mercedes is, naturally, highly unlikely to build the Concept IAA, but the lessons it learned in designing the car (it took around 1 million CPU hours of numeric flow simulation) will likely filter down into the company’s road cars. Here’s hoping they look a little less weird.

Mercedes Concept IAA pictures



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